Thursday, January 05, 2006

Stories like this have been showing up for a while in the Massachusetts media:

When Karen Aveyard signed a petition last fall, she had no idea it involved the status of gay marriage in Massachusetts.

Aveyard said the person who asked her to sign said nothing about the proposed amendment.

"I think it was in front of a grocery store," the Leominster resident said. "I was asked to sign something else, I didn't know it had anything to do with marriage." ...

The signature collector asked her to sign a petition regarding an amendment to allow grocery stores to sell wine, Aveyard said.

She was surprised to learn her name turned up on the Vote on Marriage list....

Forty thousand of the 170,000 signatures were collected by out-of-state employees from Arno, a political consulting group based in California, Mineau said.

Confusion over the content of the petition could have risen because the Arno employees sometimes worked on more than one petition at a time....

Yeah -- "confusion" is one possible explanation, if you're being charitable. But read on.

The Boston Globe ran several stories on this subject late last year:

...In each case, the voters said they were asked to sign a ballot question about the sale of wine in grocery stores and were then told to sign a second sheet of paper without being told it was the initiative to ban same-sex marriage. In some cases they said they were told the second sheet was a backup sheet for the wine question.

''She said 'could you sign the backup copy?' She completely made it clear that it was for beer and wine," said Somerville resident Victoria Ellis. ''I was really disgusted by the tactic."

Angela McElroy, a Florida college student who worked as a paid signature gatherer, said her boss taught her how to deceive voters by arranging both petitions on her clipboard so she could ask voters to sign twice, but they would see only the language for the wine question.

''Mark trained me personally in bait and switch tactics . . . The fraud was looked upon as a game," she said. ''I felt horrible for lying to so many people."

Mark Jacoby is a subcontractor working for California-based Arno Political Consultants....

Ah, yes -- Arno's Mark Jacoby. This isn't the only time his name shows up in connection with funny business:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Alachua County's elections supervisor gave more than 500 voter registration forms to local prosecutors because some people said their party affiliation was fraudulently changed to Republican by a student working for the GOP.

Beverly Hill, Alachua's Democratic elections supervisor, last week began reviewing the forms collected at the University of Florida and other schools by Mark Jacoby, who worked for a contractor that signed up voters for the Republican Party of Florida.

"I decided it was fraud," Hill said Tuesday, a day after she gave the forms to the State Attorney's Office in Gainesville. She said her staff checked 30 of them, "And they were across the board (saying), 'No, I never intended to do that.'"...

The St. Petersburg Times reported that Jacoby's company, Young Political Majors LLC,

worked for a company called JSM Inc., which in turn worked for Arno Political Consultants....

JSM has also drawn the attention of Ohio officials:

As Summit County sheriff's deputies search for a suspected forger in a petition drive for an amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Ohio, the activities of a second circulator have come into question.

In addition, three of the circulators who participated in what a federal judge called substantial and widespread fraud to get presidential hopeful Ralph Nader on the ballot in Ohio also turned in several anti-gay-marriage petitions to the Summit County Board of Elections....

The three circulators who also turned in petitions for Nader's candidacy were paid by the signature by the same Florida company -- JSM Inc. -- that was hired to collect signatures for the same-sex-marriage question....

This story quotes a petition signer who thought she was signing a petition to increase financial aid for education, when in fact she was signing an anti-gay-marriage petition -- and she was told (incorrectly) that she had to re-register to vote, which she did.

Sorry if this is old news to some of you -- I'll admit I haven't paid nearly enough attention to this kind of sleaze.

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